1.) When and how were you first introduced to Tolkien? What did you read first?
I think my grandparents tried to get me, my brother, and all my cousins to watch the Bakshi version of The Fellowship of the Ring, but there was a mix-up at Blockbuster, or wherever they’d gone to get the film, and they ended up with The Return of the King instead. None of us knew what was going on (to be completely honest, none of us really cared, either), and I ended up forgetting about the whole thing until I heard that the Jackson movies were coming out and I started reading The Fellowship, and something about Frodo wearing the Ring around his neck dredged up a memory and I thought, “Oh, hang on, I know this story. Frodo and Sam are walking along and that ring totally gets heavy. I got this.” But I hadn’t even met Merry and Pippin yet, or even Tom Bombadil, so… that scene took a while to get there.
2.) What attracts you to Tolkien’s writing?
His mastery of the language just blows me away every time. I haven’t encountered Tolkien’s level of grammatical elegance anywhere else. I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s why I can’t really deal with other high fantasy novels I’ve tried reading. Nothing else sounds as good in my head. Nothing else has been worth the effort.
3.) What would you say to those who haven’t read any of Tolkien’s books yet?
At least read The Hobbit. It’s easy, it’s fun, and if you like it you can move on to The Lord of the Rings, and then you’re hooked forever. If you don’t enjoy it, I guess we have nothing more to talk about, because who doesn’t like The Hobbit?
4.) What is your favorite Tolkien book? What makes it special?
I’m going to stick with The Return of the King because of the Appendices. I love the Gimli/Legolas and Sam/Frodo friendships more than anything else in this world, and it’s in the Appendices that you learn that they all go and party together in the Undying Lands. That is one of the most beautiful things that has ever happened in Middle Earth, and if you take that away from me my life becomes utterly meaningless.
5.) Can you share one of your favorite Tolkien quotes with us?
Literally the only things I can bring up from memory are his songs. (Apparently I don’t remember things if they don’t rhyme? Okay.)
I really love Bilbo’s old walking song, which Frodo adapts when he’s at the Grey Havens into,
“Still round the corner there may wait
A new road or a secret gate
And though I oft have passed them by
A day may come at last when I
Shall take the hidden paths that run
West of the Moon and East of the Sun.”
You can’t tell me that Frodo regaining hope for his own future, and voicing that hope in his uncle’s song, isn’t a wonderful thing. No, I’m not crying, you’re crying. Shut up.